Personal RPG

New Job, New Commute = Podcasts

If you have been on my Twitter Feed you would know that I have a new job!! My current job is great for the creativity as its mostly brainless work with great hours. The problem is that with that is that it does not pay very well. This was ok for some time but with the bills piling up, it just adds to the stress. Another issue with this job is because we are not allowed to listen to the radio or anything that may distract us I am really behind on my podcasts. I have like an entire season of Steamrollers adventure podcast to catch up on. 

My New job is going to be up in Katoomba. (Blue mountains just outside of Sydney for my American friends) and will give me a 45 min commute each way.  This is going to give me a lot of time to think about what is going to happen next in Star-Fall as well ... you guessed it Podcasts. Now I'm sure that they are not going to let me listen to podcasts as I'm repairing computers (in front of customers) but the commute between Emu Plains and Katoomba will make up for it. 

Got to Love RPG Podcasts

As you can Imagine I love RPG games. I love talking about the theories in modern storytelling. I love to hear what other Gamemasters have done. Podcasts are the best way to listen to a group without actually having to be there or setting time aside. Sure Twitch streams are awesome and Youtube has its place. But in both cases, any form of Video is not going to help me in the car. Podcasts seem to be just right. That and most of them are just over 45 min long. I tend to split my shows between the Actual Play Podcasts and RPG Theory podcasts. 

A good GM steals from other GMs 

OK ok, it's more like Learn from other GMs. If you want to be a good GM or have ever considered being one. One of the biggest bits of advice I can offer is listening to RPG Actual Play Podcasts. Many times when I'm suffering from GMs Block I will take the time to listen to other gamemasters to get good ideas. Sometimes the idea is a plot. Sometimes the idea is a storytelling or gamemastering Technique. 

Going to a D&D5e game in Katoomba

Roleplaying games in Katoomba 

You don't always have to be the GM. Avoid Burnout and learn something by letting someone else GM 

RPG Dice Katoomba

I'm making the drive from Emu Plains to Katoomba today to play my Bard in D&d5e. It's certainly worth the drive. It's nice to not be gamemastering Star-Fall all the time. I have some advice for people who are making an actual play podcast and that is to take some time to be part of the RPG world that has nothing to do with a project. My Friends Dungeons and Dragons game is the perfect time for me to just play. (And avoid the dreaded burnout) 

My good friend Aaron is running the D&d5e game with a theme of a nasty underworld. (As in crime not underground) I'm playing the chaotic good Bard. (Yah I know a stretch). What I love about this is that I get to sit back and actually not be in charge. I think that it's important to be a player now and then because I learn so much from watching other people GM. Aaron is rather good at plot lines and NPCs. He may not know this but I'm taking notes to improve my own game. 

Aaron has a way of keeping the plot very interesting beyond the stats. Oh, Sure we have stats but it's not what the game is about. Often the problems seem to be just outside of our reach to solve. He has injected a keen sense of dread 

Roleplay Heavy campaign!

If you have spent any time on my twitter feed you would know that I love a good adventure with lots of Roleplaying. Aarons game is perfect for me. We also have other players who really add to the roleplay. Being that I am playing a bard this suits me just fine. 

Our monk is more all about his religion and the moral path. (The opposite of my drinking wenching bard ) our characters are always arguing. 

Our Elvin mage is all kinds of mysterious. I just love this character. Because it's about what she doesn't say that makes us question about her intentions. The GM has allowed us to do a special attack where I throw a bottle of Alcohol and the mage ignites the bottle in mid air creating a makeshift fireball. Soo much fun. 

Ork Rouge is all kinds of Shaddy without being a walking excuse for "Backstab". I think what makes this character so dangerous is not the knives but his contacts. More than once we had an entire Thieves guild have our backs for a price (Ummm not wanting to pay that price but nobody asked the bard) 

Playing a Bard you get really good at roleplaying out of any situation.

If you are all about the stats or one of those players who can't wait for your next action never play a bard. But if you are looking for a Roleplaying challenge then to roll up your bard and don't look at your dice for the rest of the day. 

Let's face it my bard can't fight at all. He is great with the social interactions but anything with a sword I am so screwed. So my only real defence is to build a network of friendly NPCs that owe me. (I'm taking a crazy amount of notes on the NPCs so I can call on them later) 

The current joke of the group is I am always trying to find a way to solve every problem by throwing a party. So far two game nights this tactic has worked. The GM is on to me... let's see if I can keep this up. 

So that said I'm feeling refreshed and going to get back to editig Star-Fall 



Battle birds First game part two

I'm going to expand on our last game.

This time we are going to talk a little about Role Vs Roll and the characters themselves.. you can see the rest of the blog at Running Numenera for the first time.

The Artwork  

So the whole point of this is to keep my brushes moving and challenge myself as an artist. I'm trying to use this as a showcase of what I can do. The painting above took me about two hours to do.

Gamemaster stuff

From a gamemaster side, the game was very easy. I was expecting to be bogged down with the rules of the new system. However, because the rules are so easy to use I spent almost no time looking up rules. I did, however, did take notes on the back of a character sheet to keep things consistent as the players have asked this one shot be turned into a campaign. 

Truth be told I did not spend as much time working on the adventure as you would have expected. My notes were very simple 

  1. Introduce characters
  2. Have PCs meet the Murden
  3. Take the players away from the tavern
  4. Have the attack on the lower levels blamed on the Murden
  5. Have the players encounter Murden and then discover they are not the real threat
  6. Fight with Oologaan soldiers  (The Real Attackers)

That was it. I wanted to focus more on getting the characters fleshed out by providing a great environment for the players. I also wanted to focus on the Birds. By having the players work with the birds and their unique personalities it could have the players flesh out the PCs even more. 


So this time around there was not a lot of NPCs beyond the Murden. The players spent most of the time getting to know each other. I did introduce two NPCs that will become more important later. But now it was all about the introduction and foreshadowing

The Bartender. I know I know I started the campaign in a bar but when you consider that one of the characters works in the bar as their character concept it's not so bad. The Bartended pays Belric (See below) to be a bouncer with free beer. 

Captian Techard. The captain of the city guard is a 57-year-old woman who half of her upper body has been turned to glass in a battle. When she speaks her voice has undertones like glass scraping on glass. when you look at her face you can see all the bones and organs as separate bits of glass.There are stories that you can see what she is thinking if you get close enough. (nobody is that brave) She walks with her right hand in a sling as it appears to be immobilized by the glass transformation.  She is a glaive of considerable power and I mentioned that she could easily take out the entire party while using her left hand. This NPC has not formed an opinion of the players at this point 

One of the notes that I had to write down. The Murder of the Murden (You can only say that in Numenera) was not illegal because the laws are different on the lower levels. the Higher the social status the higher levels you reside. 

Using Role Vs Roll cards 

So this was the first time that my players had used Role Vs Roll cards. I dealt out three cards to each player. Though there are many ways to use Role Vs Roll we had decided to use the method of having the players guess what cards were drawn at the end. The point of this is to force the players to be subtle with the use of the cards as possible. At the end, I had awarded one XP to three of the players for using the cards 

  • 1 XP To Jade's character Azima for using "Bad habit card"  her character makes strange noises while eating 
  • 1 XP To Imp's Character Mariah for using "Hobby card", Her character makes paper pinwheels when she is not fighting.
  • 1 XP to "T's" Character Belric for NOT using any of the cards because her character concept did not fit any of the cards and after talking with her about the cards and her character I agree. 

One of the things that I liked was that all the players started to think about their characters the moment they drew the cards. The players have asked to use the cards next game. 

Prep for next game 

So now that we have a better feel for the game and the characters. I'm working on some of the possible plots 

  • The Murden greatly dislike the characters because of the murder of one of their own at the hands of the PCs (Bragi)
  • The Captian will ask the players to join the guard for their help in the lower levels (Still not decided on this one) 
  • Need to have more mounted combat with the birds by Player request. 



Moving the studio into the house

What was perfect was not so perfect for Starfall 

So many of you who have been following the Youtube Channel know that I have a dedicated studio for the creation of all things geek. But there is one problem. We live in Australia. This means that there is often rain and a lot of heat. Currently, in the studio, it's around 36 Degrees Celsius (96. F). That would not be so back except that when I go to record there is a serious fan noise. The same goes when there is heavy rain.

Yah the dog who will often reply to the dogs in the neighborhood. does tend to cause some audio problems. This has added a lot of time to the amount of editing to my projects. Starfall has been very time to intensive. 

Mozzies .. Yep not everything in Australia wants to kill you. Some of the critters want you to be a walking snack tray. We have been able to keep them at bay for game night but spending 8 hours out there every night to edit Starfall is making the mozzie repellant an expense. 

Lastly, I like to work odd hours and some of those hours are times when the family is doing other things in the house. Going out to the studio is a bit isolating. 

We moved my computer to the front room

Such a simple solution. Moving the studio to the front room is not a perfect solution but its the one we have at the moment. What I do like is that it's 6:00 Am at the moment and I'm able to get right to work without having to put on smelly mozzie repellant (does not mix well with coffee by the way) 

Running Numenera for the first time.

So let's start off with that I have no connection to the amazing people at Monte cook games. I am a fan of their product and that is where it ends so all the praise that I'm about to give them is not helping my pocketbook in any shape or form. All the artwork below is painted by myself before the game. 

So last year I borrowed a Numenera book from a friend and was rather impressed. So much so that I did not want to give it back. As a reward to myself for launching the Role Vs Roll Gamemaster tool Kickstarter. I went to 3 different game stores to find a copy for myself. Ok fast forward past a few months of reading the book over and over. Being in Awe of the elegant system as well as artwork (I'm a sucker for great artwork). It was time to run a game. this is how last night went. 

Starting off with a concept

So one of the need things about Numenera is that the world has a built-in license to be odd. Not that RPG games as whole prevent you from doing this but sometimes it breaks the theme of the game. So when I had an idea of a floating city that drags a giant crystal behind it leaving a wake of destruction behind it. It seems like I got this out of the book itself. It was not till I added giant battle ostriches that I realized what I had done with created "Joust the video game RPG" AND IT WORKED!!! 



The Players 

Finding players are never a problem for me. In fact, my problem is that If I am not careful my home game can get up to 12 Players. This can be very stressful if you are running a new game system even if it is as simple to run as Numenera. So what I did was a post to my game group about Numemera having nothing to do about a pending game and then invited anyone who made comments to the post. I was not going to exclude anyone who was interested. Just make sure that I had a smaller game group than normal. Now that I have the first game out of the way I'm open to having more players at the game table. 

One of the most surprising players is my Daughter "T" who just turned 19 years old. She has been raised by gamers but has never really shown an interest in gaming before Numenera. The artwork showing Strong and confident women as the warriors spoke to her. It's also a way to bond with the family and that is something that she is working on right now. Truth be told as a Dad I know that this is not and easy time for her and it's very easy to distance herself from us. So the fact she is trying to connect with me is not overlooked.  

The Characters 

I know this part often results in negative comments in forums and such. but I pre-generate my characters. I know I am a horrible person. Honestly, it's not all that bad when the players are focused on the character development and not how to squeeze out every bonus out of their "Attack". 

So far we have 

  • A Learned Glaive who wields two weapons at once 
  • A Rugged Glaive who performs feats of strength 
  • A Mad Jack who performs Miracles 
  • A Cleaver Nano who Wears a sheen of Ice
  • + 5 other characters that were not chosen 

I stacked the characters on the table and allowed everyone to pick the character that best suited them. (My Daughter did have a custom character because she asked if she could play the Rugged Glave) From here I asked everyone to take a moment and think about their character.  This was easy and I could see that everyone was already to find an idea of what they wanted to play. One of our players Jade had already started to alter her clothing in a way that would suit her "Mad Jack". Now wearing a head scarf with a necklace on her head giving the appearance of a tiara. 

Then I asked everyone how they knew each other. One of the things that I love about the Cypher system is that it has this built into the characters. Now that the whole "Introduction and why should I trust you phase" of the game was out of the way it was time to give out the birds.

The birds 

This part was not in the Numenra book. This idea was totally mine. Each of the players was to have their own mount. This would be one of three kinds of birds. The main kind was the Battle Ostrich. A large bird that could fly short distances and would be mostly loyal to the players. The second was a Gryphon and Vulture mix that was basically Hate with Feathers. Each of the Birds has a personality. One positive trait and one negative. 

  • Loyal to the rider and will fight without command it in order to protect owner 
  • Randomly Shits every time the player Rolls a "12" Smells really bad 
  • Coward and runs away when loud noises 
  • Expertly trained all commands are minus one step 
  • Comes with you whistle 

I made character sheets for each of these birds and put them on a stack in the middle of the table. I told the players they were not allowed to look at them or trade if they got something they did not like. I mixed the Vulture/Gryphon as the third bird in the stack because I have plans for this thing. The players all laughed at their picks and quickly started talking about what they had picked. 

Yes they started in a Tavern 

Yes Yes, I know that It has already been done. There is a reason for this it works. I told the party that they are all a part of a mercenary group who has a base in the floating city. This added even a closer bond between the characters. Then I started to ask questions allowing the players to tell me about their mercenary group. 

  • Who is your leader?
  • How many members do you have? 
  • Why are you in the city? 
  • What is the name of your group? 

I love giving the players this kind of control it adds to the player agency. I also find that it works with the feel of Numenea as the players are also storytellers. 

Numenera Mechanics. 

 GM not using dice. This is a new concept for me. As I love using dice. This, however, does add more trust between the players and the GM. IT took me some getting used to this. I think that I like it. It kept my hands free to take notes. 

This is a new concept for me. As I love using dice. This, however, does add more trust between the players and the GM. IT took me some getting used to this. I think that I like it. It kept my hands free to take notes. 

The GM intrusion.

I tell you Monte cook games is big on consent. A GM intrusion puts the play and the GM on the equil footing. It gives the player the right to refuse something that makes their life more interesting. Taking some of the power away from the GM and giving it to the players is very "Topping from the bottom"

"If you take this intrusion the tea you are drinking will give you a minor reaction that will be interesting.. will not harm you.. and you get one XP and get ti give one to another player"  The player was a little reluctant at first but when I turned her purple (the players favorite colour) she quickly used this as a way to better develop her character. 

The second time that I used the GM intrusion the player agreed without even asking what would happen. 

Using Assets, Skills, and Effort. 

This part took a little more for the players to figure out. However, twards the end of the game, they seem to have a better idea. 

Narrative weapons VS Stat Weapons 

This one snuck up on me. When I was first reading the rules to the game I was thinking WOW the game has very limited weapons. Then I started to think about it. Unlike Shadowrun where the weapons are almost its own game system (Not bad just different), Numenera has only three classes of weapons light, Med, Heavy.  This sounds limited till you start to think that ALL the weapons you can think of can fit under one of those categories.  When was the last time you saw the stats for a Chinese hook sword in D&D? Or how about an Escrima? In Numenera the players can have whatever they want as the weapons are there to tell the story not dish out the maximum damage.

Now I also have to say that we did use Role VS Roll cards in the game that is a totally different post. As this post is about Numenera! 

The result 

This one shot game has turned into a campaign. The players loved it. I like the system and how it empowers the players. The players have asked to have one game at least once a month. .. or darn twist my arm.

Myself I found the system to be easy to use. I have more time to focus on the story and not the mechanics of the system. So WELL DONE ! 

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